Ghana In The Hands of Fall Armyworm: Who Saves The Nation?

Ghana In The Hands of Fall Armyworm: Who Saves The Nation?

The fall armyworm which has recently invaded the country (in 2016) appears to have possed an immeasurable threat not only to maize productivity in Gha

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The fall armyworm which has recently invaded the country (in 2016) appears to have possed an immeasurable threat not only to maize productivity in Ghana but also that of food security in our dear nation. The reason why it is of no doubt that Ghana’s developmental route can be traced to agriculture

Indeed, many had tried to control the canker in their own ‘small ways’ but appears most of such attempts at controlling the fall armyworm had not yielded results.

It is worth noting that, according to a research conducted in Brazil and published in June 2017, the fall armyworm can destroy fifty-seven percent (57%) of farm produce which in the case of mother Ghana is nothing but maize.

I often times get worried when the fall armyworm attacks huge hectares of maize farms which have the ability to feed a number of families and additionally raise the income base for this country.

The Entomological Society of Ghana (ESG) which comprises of some state institutions such as the University of Ghana in Legon, West African Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), University of Cape Coast, Plant Genetic Resource Centre at Bunso , Ghana Atomic Energy Commission at Accra, University of Education Winneba-Mampong, University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani , Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Savanna Agriculture Research Institute, PPRSD of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, University for Development Studies in Tamale, Oil Palm Research Institute in Akyim Kusi, Sunyani Technical University, Cocoa Research Institute in Akyim Tafo, Crop Research Institute in Kumasi , as well as the USAID-Advance. Last year(2018), the Entomological Society of Ghana at a symposium threw more light on the fall armyworm in which they highlighted some traditional methods of control adopted by some maize farmers.

In spite of that, not much research has been undertaken by the government of Ghana, specifically the sector ministry, as part of measures to control the canker.

The Minister for Food and Agriculture upon his invitation to Parliament stated that the ministry had ‘completely defeated the fall armyworm’. Many including even I had never known the repercussions of the minister’s misrepresentation on the state of the pest until I conducted research titled “the influence of fall armyworm on maize production in the Ejura Sekyeredumasi Municipality of the Ashanti Region of Ghana” which happens to be the southern part of the country. In attempts to review literature works which revolve around the pest, I came across many other research works undertaken by several persons from other West African countries and others from the North American continent.

Ghana in the hands of fall armyworm stands at a higher risk of the pest’s deterioration because of the following reasons:

1. Many Ghanaian maize farmers at a time of the pest’s emergence could not use any means other than cruel and traditional means to control the menace because the sector ministry in 2016, was not prepared for the emergence of the fall armyworm. This has the tendency of making the pest to adapt to such traditional methods of control.

2. Ghanaian markets were not, and have up to date not been regulated enough, relative to which chemical(s) is/are most effective and responsible for the control of the fall armyworm.

3. Government’s position on the state of this menace has not been clear to the maize growing population of the country. This is reflected in the ‘we have completely defeated the fall armyworm’ comment of Ghana’s incumbent sector minister, Dr.Osei Akoto upon his invitation by Ghana’s Parliament on the state of the fall armyworm in July 2017. The minister’s comment was later strongly defeated in August 2017, by the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU). His comment also received backlashes from several farmers from the Northern region in which they stated that the fall armyworm seriously destroying their farms.

4. There have not been enough effective linkage between research and Extension on the pest, hence, less knowledge on the nature of the pest, and ways of controlling the fall armyworm.

5. The ineffective surveillance system of Ghana’s maize producing areas to either restrict and/or limit the operability of fall armyworm in such areas and zones.

What is the way forward as people ..???

1. We must partially shift emphasis from Planting for food and jobs and devise ways of controlling the fall armyworm because Ghana can invest millions and billions of Ghana cedis in planting for food and jobs policy which aims at ensuring an all-year-round agricultural productivity, but would take just a couple of months(two months) or even less for the fall armyworm to destroy such huge investments . Who saves the nation …???

2. Government’s role is key in identifying and marketing which chemicals(s) is/are effective in controlling the menace. This can be done by thoroughly regulating the pesticide industry in order to get chemicals that are meant for making money but are actually ineffective against the fall armyworm.

3. Our leaders who spearhead the Agricultural sector must up their game if only we want to either maintain or increase our production capacity as a country because the fall armyworm is a ‘fast-deteriorating pest’. Reference can be made to the Brong Ahafo region in which 42,007 tonnes of maize was produced in 2017. Despite that, only 69, 447.91 hectares of maize farms were savage out of a total of 82, 779.37 hectares of maize plots which represent sixteen percent (16%) reduction in maize production in 2017.

Per my statistical analysis, this menace is likely to register forty-eight percent (48%), which is almost half a loss of a total farm produce.

4. Ghana Entomological Society should, in my opinion, collaborate with the crop research institute to work more on finding alternatives to strategies other than chemical use.

5. Consistent surveillance of Ghana’s maize production areas relative to the influence of the fall armyworm. This, when done, would update agricultural stakeholders on the seasonal distribution of the fall armyworm. This promises to as well ensure timeliness against the pest.

What do we look forward to initiating as the problem has once more escalated in the Sissala East Municipality of the Upper West region in which farmlands of thirty-seven (37) communities which contains about 30,000 hectares have been destroyed …???

And how effective is the mass spraying …???

This indeed has been my views on the fall armyworm and I trust this piece would get to the rightful authorities for further perusal.

I trust this article would as well contribute to the growth and development of mother Ghana.

GHANA IN THE HANDS OF FALL ARMYWORM, WHO SAVES THE NATION …???

Thank you ..!!!!!

OSCAR KOMLA BEDZRA,

FORMER COORDINATING SECRETARY OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENTS IN AGRICULTURE AND RELATED SCIENCES(IAAS).

UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION WINNEBA- MAMPONG

0249938890